Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Class Action
TRINA RAY, ET AL V. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT, ET AL
Plaintiffs sought unpaid overtime wages for the period between January 1, 2015, and February 1, 2016, during which a Department of Labor rule entitling homecare workers to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was temporarily vacated. The district court conditionally certified a putative collective consisting of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers who worked overtime during this period. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s orders granting summary judgment in favor of Los Angeles County Department of Social Services and denying partial summary judgment to Plaintiffs. Reversing in part and remanding, the panel held that the County was a joint employer, along with care recipients, of IHSS providers, and thus could be liable under the FLSA for failing to pay overtime compensation. The panel held that, notwithstanding differences between the IHSS program operating in Los Angeles County today and the programs analyzed in Bonnette, the County was a joint employer of Plaintiffs, in light of the economic and structural control it exercised over the employment relationship. The panel directed the district court, on remand, to grant partial summary judgment to Plaintiffs on the issue of whether the County was a joint employer of IHSS providers. Further, the panel held that the district court did not err in granting partial summary judgment to the County on the issue of willfulness and denying partial summary judgment to plaintiffs on the issue of liquidated damages. The panel held that a determination of willfulness and the assessment of liquidated damages are reserved for the most recalcitrant violators. View "TRINA RAY, ET AL V. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT, ET AL" on Justia Law
IN RE: NAMED PLAINTIFFS, ET AL V. APPLE INC.
Apple entered into a $310 million settlement with a class of individuals based on claims that Apple secretly throttled the system performance of certain model iPhones to mask battery defects. Five class objectors sought to vacate the settlement on various grounds, including 1.) that the district court provided inadequate notice of the settlement to nonnatural persons; 2.) the settlement extinguished the claims of “all former or current U.S. owners” of certain devices who downloaded iOS software before Apple disclosed potential defect, but the settlement limited recovery to the subset of owners who can attest that “they experienced” the alleged defects; and 3.) that the district court cited the wrong legal standard in examining the settlement’s fairness by improperly applying a presumption of reasonableness to the settlement rather than applying a heightened scrutiny.The Ninth Circuit held that the district court applied the wrong legal standard when reviewing the settlement’s fairness. View "IN RE: NAMED PLAINTIFFS, ET AL V. APPLE INC." on Justia Law
GLORIA JOHNSON, ET AL V. CITY OF GRANTS PASS
This case involves challenges to five provisions of the Grants Pass Municipal Code (“GPMC”). The provisions can be described as an “anti-sleeping” ordinance, two “anticamping” ordinances, a “park exclusion” ordinance, and a “park exclusion appeals” ordinance. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s summary judgment and its permanent injunction in favor of Plaintiffs; affirmed certification pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2), of a class of “involuntary homeless” persons; and remanded in an action challenging municipal ordinances which, among other things, preclude homeless persons from using a blanket, a pillow, or cardboard box for protection from the elements while sleeping within the City’s limits. The panel stated that this court’s decision in Martin v. City of Boise, 902 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2018), which held that “the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter” served as the backdrop for this entire litigation. The panel held that there was abundant evidence in the record establishing that homeless persons were injured by the City’s enforcement actions in the past and it was undisputed that enforcements have continued. The panel further held that the relief sought by plaintiffs, enjoining enforcement of a few municipal ordinances aimed at involuntary homeless persons, was redressable within the limits of Article III. The panel held that based on the record in this case, the district court did not err by finding plaintiffs satisfied the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) such that a class could be certified under Rule 23(b)(2). View "GLORIA JOHNSON, ET AL V. CITY OF GRANTS PASS" on Justia Law
ANDRE VERDUN, ET AL V. CITY OF SAN DIEGO, ET AL
Plaintiffs brought a putative class action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 alleging that tire chalking violated the Fourth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment for Defendants and held that municipalities are not required to obtain warrants before chalking tires as part of enforcing time limits on city parking spots. The panel held that even assuming the temporary dusting of chalk on a tire constitutes a Fourth Amendment “search,” it falls within the administrative search exception to the warrant requirement. Complementing a broader program of traffic control, tire chalking is reasonable in its scope and manner of execution. It is not used for general crime control purposes. And its intrusion on personal liberty is de minimis at most. View "ANDRE VERDUN, ET AL V. CITY OF SAN DIEGO, ET AL" on Justia Law
RAQUEL AGUILAR, ET AL V. WALGREEN CO.
The appeal was brought in the name of purported clients of the law firms of Gallo LLP and Wynne Law Firm (“Gallo/Wynne”). Gallo/Wynne originally sought to represent a putative class of Walgreen’s store managers in the San Francisco Superior Court in a wage and hour action (the Morales action). A different group of attorneys from the firms of Miller Shah LLP and Edgar Law Firm LLC (“Miller/Edgar”) filed a substantially similar wage and hour action on behalf of Walgreen’s store managers in the Eastern District of California (the Caves action). Gallo/Wynne sought to encourage putative class members in the Caves action to instead join a separate “mass action” to be filed by Gallo/Wynne as Gallo/Wynne clients.The district court issued an order granting Miller/Edgar’s ex parte application for Corrective Notice to the allegedly misleading Letter and invalidated all Gallo/Wynne procured opt-outs from the Caves action. The district court issued a second order granting Walgreen’s motion to modify the scope of the Corrective Notice to be sent to all Gallo/Wynne procured Caves opt-outs. Appellants are purported clients of Gallo/Wynne, and they appealed these two orders.The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction and denied Appellants’ request for mandamus relief. The panel held that the two orders were amenable to review after final judgment, and this placed them outside of the third collateral order requirement: effective unreviewability. The panel held that the dispositive third factor–that the district court order is clearly erroneous as a matter of law– was not met here. View "RAQUEL AGUILAR, ET AL V. WALGREEN CO." on Justia Law
DANIELLE MARTINEZ V. GAVIN NEWSOM
In a putative class action, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, and they sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s dismissal of claims brought by a group of students and parents who alleged that every school district in California failed to adequately accommodate special needs students after California public schools transitioned to remote instruction in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel held that Plaintiffs lacked standing to sue school districts in which they were not enrolled and the State Special Schools, which they did not attend because they did not allege that those Defendants injured them personally. The panel held that even if the “juridical link” doctrine, provides an exception to the rule that a named plaintiff who has not been harmed by a defendant is generally an inadequate and atypical class representative for purposes of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, ever applies outside of the Rule 23 context, it would not apply here. The panel held that the California public schools’ return to in-person instruction mooted Plaintiffs’ claims against the California Department of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Education, as well as their claims against other defendants seeking injunctions requiring a return to in-person instruction or reassessment and services until students return to in-person instruction. The panel vacated the district court’s judgment dismissing on the merits the claims that Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring and remanded with instruction to dismiss those claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. View "DANIELLE MARTINEZ V. GAVIN NEWSOM" on Justia Law
AARON LEIGH-PINK V. RIO PROPERTIES, LLC
Plaintiffs appealed the district court’s dismissal of their claims against Rio Properties, LLC (“Rio”), which owns and operates the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. During this time, Plaintiffs claim Defendant knew that its water system was infected with Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ Disease. After learning of the contamination, Plaintiffs brought a putative class action against Defendant. They sought the return of the resort fee on the theory that they would not have gone to the hotel, and would not have paid the resort fee if Defendant had told them about the presence of the Legionella. In a prior decision, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims for negligence, “declaratory relief,” violation of Nevada Revised Statutes (“NRS”) Section 205.377(1), and consumer fraud, and reversed the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment claim. However, the court reserved judgment on Plaintiffs’ claims for fraudulent concealment and statutory consumer fraud, based on NRS Section 598.0923(2), because a controlling question of state law existed. In response to a certified question, the Nevada State Supreme Court answered “that a plaintiff who receives the true value of the goods or services purchased has not suffered damages under theories of common-law fraudulent concealment or N.R.S. 41.600.” Thus, the Ninth Circuit affirmed, finding that applying Nevada state law as declared by the Nevada State Supreme Court, Plaintiffs failed to allege recoverable damages as to their fraudulent concealment and consumer fraud claims. View "AARON LEIGH-PINK V. RIO PROPERTIES, LLC" on Justia Law
ANDREW ROLEY V. GOOGLE LLC
Google sent an email to users, such as Plaintiff, who had contributed photos to Google maps but had not yet joined the company’s Local Guides Program, inviting them to join the program. Plaintiff joined the Local Guides program and claimed his terabyte of free Google Drive storage. Google advised him the benefit was for two years, and Plaintiff contended that when he read the initial email, he assumed Google was offering a lifetime benefit. In ruling on Google’s summary judgment motion, the district court considered three documents – the photo impact email, the enrollment page, and the Program Rules - and concluded that they did not constitute a unilateral contract offer for one terabyte of free Google Drive storage for life. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment. The court explained that advertisements are not typically understood as offers, but that rule includes an exception for offers of a reward. The operative question under California law is “whether the advertiser, in clear and positive terms, promised to render performance in exchange for something requested by the advertiser, and whether the recipient of the advertisement reasonably might have concluded that by acting in accordance with the request a contract would be formed.” The court reasoned that the Google documents at issue neither informed users how they might conclude the bargain, nor invited the performance of a specific act, leaving nothing for negotiation. The court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to Google on Plaintiff’s conversion and breach of contract claims. View "ANDREW ROLEY V. GOOGLE LLC" on Justia Law
MACOMB COUNTY EMPL. RET. SYS. V. ALIGN TECHNOLOGY, INC.
Plaintiff alleged that corporate executives at Align Technology, Inc., a medical device manufacturer best known for selling “Invisalign” braces, misrepresented their company's prospects in China. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the securities fraud class action under Sections 10(b), 20(a), and 20A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The court rejected as unsupported Defendants’ argument that their statements could not be considered false at the time they were made because Plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts to make plausible the inference that the rate of Align’s growth in China had begun to decline significantly when the challenged statements were made. The court concluded that former employees’ reports, viewed alongside circumstantial evidence of the short period of time between the twelve challenged statements and the downturn of Align’s prospects in China, sufficiently supported the inference that Align’s growth in China had slowed materially when the statements were made. The court held that the district court correctly found that six of the challenged statements were non-actionable “puffery,” which involves vague statements of optimism expressing an opinion that is not capable of objective verification. The district court also correctly found that the remaining six statements did not create a false impression of Align’s growth in China and so were not actionable. Having determined that all of the challenged statements were nonactionable, the panel declined to reach issues of scienter and control-person or insider-trading liability. View "MACOMB COUNTY EMPL. RET. SYS. V. ALIGN TECHNOLOGY, INC." on Justia Law
Bowerman v. Field Asset Services, Inc.
FAS is in the business of pre-foreclosure property preservation for the residential mortgage industry. Bowerman contracted with FAS as a vendor. Bowerman alleged that FAS willfully misclassified him and members of a putative class as independent contractors, rather than employees, resulting in failure to pay overtime compensation and to indemnify them for their business expenses.The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s certification of a class of 156 individuals who personally performed work for FAS, reversed partial summary judgment in favor of the class, vacated an interim award of more than five million dollars in attorneys’ fees, and remanded. The class members failed to demonstrate that FAS’s liability was subject to common proof or that “damages are capable of measurement on a classwide basis,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3). The district court erred in finding no triable issue of material fact as to the employment relationship. There were genuine disputes of material fact: whether the vendors were free from FAS’s control, and whether they were engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business. The facts supported the conclusion that the vendors performed services for FAS in the usual course of FAS’s business. There was also a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the class members ever incurred reimbursable expenses or worked overtime. On remand, the district court may consider a “joint employment” issue for class members who own or operate distinct legal entities. View "Bowerman v. Field Asset Services, Inc." on Justia Law